The Long Good Day Pt. II
2:58 P.M. My Place, On theCouch
Waking up from a nap isn't at all like going to sleep for the night, no matter what they tell you. They may look like similar processes on the surface. It's true that they share the same end result- not being asleep anymore- but other than that, they couldn't be more different from each other.
Usually the soul stays in the body during a nap; that's the main difference between taking one and going to sleep for the night. That makes the whole affair faster and smoother. Since naps are usually shorter than sleeping for the night, if the soul does leave, it doesn't have time to get very far. Which is good for everyone involved.
Going to sleep for the night is mostly about the brain needing time to make sense of all the wild things it observed while it was awake. Brains take in way more information than we need them to, and they keep most of what they see to themselves. It does this not to be sneaky, but to help us out. Without the brain's complicated system of organizing and keeping information from the rest of the body the entire human race would be paralyzed with insanity induced by overstimulation in less time than it takes to watch 2 episodes of Cheers. That's a harsh and humbling truth for sure, but it's something most of us learn to live with.
Naps, on the other hand, are sorta like coffee breaks for the brain, mind, and body. For example, if you're trying to learn something new, taking a nap after studying for a bit helps the new information ooze into your long term memory banks a lot faster than staying awake would. Thats just one of the many benefits naps provide. Taking a nap is usually like visiting an oasis, a nice mid-day break from consensual reality, an invigorating yet relaxing mid-flight refuel that can help fix a bad day or provide a much needed time out from the rigiourous demands of paying attention to one's surroundings. In other words, most of the time naps are good stuff.
I say most of the time because sometimes that's not how they go. This nap I had just woken up from was one of those naps. It was uncomfortable and specifically non-refreshing. Plus, it did nothing to alleviate my hangover. On top of that, I felt my soul leave for a brief time even though I had asked it politely to stay put. I have an idea about what it was up to, and I'm not sure I approve, but there's precious little I can do about that now.
A quick glance at where my watch would have been if I was wearing one let me know I wasn't wearing one and that led me to conclude that I was awake and not dreaming, which put me one step ahead of the game. I thought I wasn't dreaming, but confirmation in the form of knowing for sure is always nice. Feels great to know for sure. Always did, always will. Knowing for sure, or "lacking confusion" as it's sometimes called, is pretty much as good as it gets, feelings-wise. If you don't believe me, give it a try sometime, you'll see what I mean soon enough.
I sat up from my couch and shook the thoughts out of my head while I rubbed the back of my neck. It felt good, but not good enough to scare away my headache. I was going to need something more for that. I wasn't sure what yet and didn't expect to know for at least a little while, but I was getting ahead of myself. First I needed to pull it together and figure out how I wanted to handle the trashing of my office, the arrival of the werewolf gang in town, and the whereabouts of Frank Stein. Second, I needed to banish this hangover. Third, I was going to have to go ahead and handle the situation in the manner I've yet to devise.
With great effort I stood up with the kind of sigh normally reserved for sitting down after a long day and made my way to the bathroom. Taking naps wreaks havoc on the mouth. Last I read, nap breath was the number three cause of divorce, right behind sobering up and just being lazy about it. The bathroom wasn't going to come to me, not this time, so I leapt into action and lumbered off to shine my chompers.
3:19 P.M. My Place, In the Bathroom
A toothbrush is one of the only things most people feel comfortable putting in their mouths, taking out, letting it lay out right next to where they piss and shit all day until bedtime and then, without any kind of hesitation, happily stick it back into their mouths. This always seemed a contradictory way to clean something to me, but I've never formally studied the subject and had several aversions about forming an uninformed opinion about the matter so I just went along with the status quo and tried not to let it bother me so much. For a while there, I was using a toothbrush just once and then throwing it away. That went on for a year or so before I realized that the standard practice couldn't be that unhygienic. When I came to think about the issue, I realized that I have never heard about anyone getting sick from toothbrush reuse, let alone expiring from it, so I gave the old way another try and never looked back.
Normally I don't think this much about brushing my teeth, but there's something about being severely hungover that makes completing the most basic of tasks nearly impossible to complete without slowly and thouroughly going over everything I know about them with a fine toothed comb in my head while I'm doing them with my hands.
The ADA recommends one brush their teeth for a minimum of two minutes each time, three times a day. They go on to furthur suggest that you divide your mouth into four quadrants (mentally speaking, not physically) and spend thirty seconds brushing each one. Each of those quadrants is separated into a front and back sector, each of which gets fiftteen seconds of brushing action before moving on to the next. That's the recommended procedure, which is different than the way most people do it. Most people just jam the brush in, move it around for less than 40 seconds, yank it out, spit twice, make some funny noises, and then call it an effective attempt at oral hygiene. Sadly, that's not the case. It may or may not be true that the ADA has been bought out by a conglomeration of toothpaste manufacturers and makes their recommendations based on increasing toothpaste consumption instead of on actual science about best teeth practices; still and all, most decent people would be likely admit that forty seconds just doesn't seem long enough to make a decent difference.
I finished brushing the last sector of the final quadrant of my mouth, which was upper left, front facing this time, and moved on to the mouthwash phase of my preparations.
When it comes to mouthwashing, I'm a firm believer in the yellow stuff that was invented so that Civil War soldiers could live through the barbaric amputation procedures so popular at the time. The bottle recommends half a capful be swished around the mouth for an entire minute before ejecting it and moving on to flossing. I won't bore you with the details of how that went. It's a pretty straightforward process that doesn't usually benefit from musings and conversations.
After I finished, I rinsed the sink and thought about vomiting for awhile. On the one hand it would be nice just to empty my tanks and start over. On the two hand, vomiting was far too complex and involved an activity for me at the moment. On the three hand, I needed a cup of coffee, not an excuse to look at what I ate yesterday. Vomiting would have to wait.
I briefly considered a shower but decided against it. It was too risky an undertaking at the moment. A splash of cool water on my face would have to do. I dried my face on a towel and looked in the mirror. I needed a shave but otherwise I was as presentable as I was going to get today.
Coffee and cigarettes were the next step toward solving today's mystery. I really didn't have time for this step and should have been out the door by now, but it was too important to skip. It's dangerous to go thinking after any sort of unconsciousness without drinking coffee. I knew the matters before me today were important, more important than my current behavior and demeanor would indicate, but I was still too hungover to care. I was just in no particuliar rush to deal with monster-on-monster crime and smashed light bulbs. Whatever Patricia and Desmond Wolfmin were up to would have to wait until I was ready and willing to deal with it. The worst thing you can do with a monster is to act like what they say and do carries any importance to you at all. Most of the monster game is about hijacking your attention and turning your thought process against you so that all you can do is think about how scary they are over and over again. Truth is, monsters really aren't scary. They may be dangerous, annoying, and rude but they can't scare you if you don't let 'em.
I finished the last sip of my coffee, placed the mug on the table with an authoritative thump, and stood up. I was ready. Not ready to confront monsters, but ready to leave the house. My mouth was as dry as a properly mixed martini and someone was ringing church bells in my head, but I was ready to leave my place anyway. I was going to need a drink. There was no other way to exorcise this hangover.
I clutched the doorknob and twisted it while forcing myself forward, out of my place and into the cruel afternoon sunlight.
4:29 P.M. Outside, My Front Door
Once outside, all I could summon from myself was squinting and feeling like dying.
4:49 P. M.. Outside, My Front Door (Still)
Thankfully, most of the ill effects of sunlight could be countered with a pair of common sunglasses, which I knew to be somewhere on my person. It took some doing, but I managed to locate and apply them properly.
"That's better. Much. Better," I said or thought I said. It was hard to tell the difference at the moment. I started down the block and wondered where I should head. My office was the obvious first choice, but that's only when it's not smashed up, which it was at the moment, so that option was off the table for the time being.
Sending word to the gang of street urchins that I needed some info about the new werewolves was another option for the rest of my afternoon. But I wasn't in the mood to be around that many little kids right now. I'd rather have dinner with Desmond and Patricia than explain how a yo yo works to a drunken six year old who keeps bumming my smokes.
I got to Sam's Bar before I gave in to the urge to curl up in a ball and take a nap on the sidewalk, which is always a blessing. I'm grateful for every time it happens.
It was a little after five or a while before six, depending on if you were coming or going. It wasn't dark yet but the sun had started letting the sky turn pink and gold, just a little. Just enough to take the edge off but not so much that it triggered thoughts of turning on lamps or taking off sunglasses. The seeds of the evening were being planted nonetheless.
Sam's Bar was darker than usual and not too crowded. I spotted a group of midgets playing darts in the back and a few of Danny's handlers were setting up his seat and getting things ready for him.
I sat and ordered the most expensive beer on the menu backed by a shot of their cheapest whiskey. I finished each in record time without complaining or enjoying either.
I lit a Lucky and said to Sam, "Hey Sam, is it me or is it darker than usual in here?"
"It's you, Mr. T.J. You still got your shades on."
I removed my sunglasses and started seeing around instead of just looking around. It wasn't that dark after all.
"Jax!? What the hell are you doing here?"
"Yeah, it's me. What's got into you? You look like shit. You want I should make you my special hangover cure? I call it 'pear of the dog' it's got raw eggs in it."
"Nah, just tell me what you're doing here instead and how you got so tall so quickly."
Jax chuckled and shook his head, "Ah, Mr. T.J., you're always cracking me up. I work here. Mr. S made me the bar manager this morning. Ain't that great? I'm not any taller, it's just an optical conclusion."
I had to agree that it was great even though I wasn't sure I wanted to have to have an opinion on it right this second. I looked over the bar and saw that Jax was standing on a wooden ledge which ran around the entire circumference. As long as he stayed on it, he was tall enough to properly tend the bar.
"Everything's an optical conclusion,Jax. What else could it be?"
"Always with the deep thoughts, ain't ya?" Jax said as he refilled both my tall and short glasses. "Mind if I bum a smoke?"
"Help yourself," I said, glancing over at the dart-playing midgets. Turns out they weren't midgets at all, but rather drunken street urchins messing with a yo yo.
I finished my drinks and ordered another round, bracing myself for the evening ahead.